Volume 33 Number 93
                 Produced: Tue Dec 26 19:20:23 US/Eastern 2000

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Alaphbeth Fonts
         [Saul Davis]
Automatic Light (2)
         [Ezra Rosenfeld, S&M Rosen]
Buying Ma'arat Hamachpelah
         [Elaine and Robert Sherer]
Clarifications on Linguistic Matters (2)
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu, Mark Steiner]
         [Carl Singer]
Re-i (mirror) and Matzpen (compass) in the tefilin bag
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Shabbat "Hagadol"
         [Saul Davis]
Shlumiel the shlemiel
         [Mike Gerver]
Tefilat Zakah
         [Menucha Chwat]
Texts for Hebrew Learning
         [Rachel Swirsky]
Yiddish spelling of Hebrew words
         [Shlomo B Abeles]


From: <TzviR@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 20:31:25 EST
Subject: Adoptions

I was asked to inquire if anyone knows agencies or proven sources to
adopt babies. I would appreciate leads. Please E mail <TzviR@...> Will
keep confidential if so desired.

Thanks,Tzvi R.


From: Saul Davis <sdavis@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 22:09:41 +0200
Subject: Alaphbeth Fonts

Does anyone know if I can get computer fonts for Ktav Ivri (the ancient,
original Hebrew script)? They would have to be Windows (Hebrew enabled)

Saul Davis
Beer-Sheva, Israel


From: Ezra Rosenfeld <zomet@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2000 08:37:43 +0200
Subject: Automatic Light

Rav Shmuel HaLevi Vosner, considered one of the leading poskim in Bnei
Brak today, writes in a teshuva that there is absolutely no prohibition
in walking past a floodlight and causing its activation.

Ezra Rosenfeld

From: S&M Rosen <mrosen@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2000 00:36:35 -0500
Subject: Re: Automatic Light

I am very interested in the current discussion on the automatic sensor
light issue as it is impacting us directly.  Our (Jewish) neighbor has
installed such a light and since our walkways are next to each other, it
is impossible to enter our house without triggering the floodlight.
There is no other means to enter/exit our house.  We have tried speaking
to this neighbor, appealing to city hall, and so forth, but the light
remains.  Either we are homebound Friday night or we will set off the
light.  Does anyone have a psak in a similar situation?


From: Elaine and Robert Sherer <ERSherer@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 11:41:41 EST
Subject: Re: Buying Ma'arat Hamachpelah

Moshe and Davida Nugiel question the insistence of Avraham Avinu that he
pay Efron the Hittite for the Machpela as a failure of faith in Hashem's
promise that the whole land would one day belong to Avraham's
descendants. Such a reading of Avraham's motive is just plain wrong. Of
course, Avraham believed Hashem's promise that the land of Canaan would
belong to his descendants.  He also believed Hashem when He told him
that his people would be exiled "to a land not theirs (Egypt)" from
which Hashem would take them out and return them to their own
land. Avraham's problem when he spoke to the Hittites was that Sarah had
died and he needed a place to bury her NOW. He paid Efron's asking price
without question because he knew, because Hashem had told him so, that
one day Hashem would return his descendants to the land.  Accepting the
Machpela, or any site, as a gift from Efron or one of the other
Hittites to whom he spoke, would have left Avraham's children open to a
claim that "Your father cheated my father out of my in inheritance."
And, aren't we getting that accusation today anyway?


From: Gilad J. Gevaryahu <Gevaryahu@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 20:32:52 EST
Subject: Clarifications on Linguistic Matters

Mark Steiner (v33n91) suggests about the plurality of "bar-xxx" that:

<< The term bar is Aramaic for Hebrew "ben".  Both of these terms
function the same way, for example, ben mavet means a person to whom
death is applicable, just as bar mitzvah means a person to whom the
category of mitzvah is applicable.  The plural of ben mavet (in Biblical
Hebrew) is given by replacing ben with the plural smikhut form of ben,
which is bnei.  So the only question is what is the parallel Aramaic
form of Hebrew "bnei". And the answer, unfortunately is "bnei".  So we
have ben/bar and bnei/bnei.  And the plural of bar mitzvah happens to be
bnei mitzvah.>>

Although I agree that most (maybe all) classical Hebrew texts will use
the plural "bnei-xxx" for the singular Aramaic "bar-xxx," this is not as
conclusive as he reported. Jastrow gives two examples (p. 188) of
"barei" from MSS which I do not have to verify -- so we'll leave the
classical usage in a question mark, with the feeling that Mark Steiner
is probably right.

However, in modern Hebrew (~last hundred years) these uses of
"barei-xxx" instead of "bnei-xxx" is common enough to make it acceptable

"barei-mitzvah" --Sho"t Seridei Esh, Helek Gimmel, Siman 79; Sho"t Tzitz 
Eliezer, Helek Vav, siman 36 (two times).
"barei-Onshin" --D"N 9/83 by Judge Gabriel Bach
"Barei-Tokef" --H"P (T-A) 1165/92; Ayin"Alef 217/86, 868/75; Bagatz 13/86
"barei-Samcha" --Taf-Het 4/9/3; Ayin"Peh 341/82

The above seven citations of court cases from Takdin CD/ROM, mostly from
the Israeli Supreme Court, together with the above three responsa cases,
suggest that in modern Hebrew the usage of "barei-xxx" is acceptable.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu

From: Mark Steiner <marksa@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2000 23:24:50 +0200
Subject: Re: Clarifications on Linguistic Matters

    I would like to make some remarks about Gilad Gevaryahu's interesting
response to my posting about "bnei mitzvah.":

Here are my comments:

1.  The original poster claimed that "bnei mitzvah" is incorrect.  The
intention of my posting was to point out that this is clearly wrong, as
Gilad agrees.

2.  The form "bnei" appears over 500 times in the Targum Onkelos to the
Torah (in the standard version); "barei" appears not at all.

3.  The feminine of "bar mitzvah" is "bat mitzvah," (Talmud B.M. 15a)
not "barat mitzvah" (corresponding to "barei mitzvah").  Nobody, even in
Israel, celebrates a "barat mitzvah" party.

4.  The forms "barei" and "barat" seem to stem from regarding the
Aramaic word "bar" as though it were the Biblical Hebrew word "bar"
(meaning pure).  The plural smikhut of BH bar is in fact "barei"; and
the feminine singular semikhut form of BH bar is in fact "barat."

5.  Since in Israeli Hebrew (which contains a jumble of Hebrew forms
from different periods) both Aramaic "bar" and BH "bar" are found, it is
worthwhile to keep the distinction between "bnei daat" (meaning
'mentally competent') and "barei daat" ('pure of mind').

6.  The expression "barei tokef" as plural of "bar tokef" is
depressingly prevalent in Israeli legal writings, as Gilad attests.  But
it is still considered mistaken by a member of the Israeli Academy of
the Hebrew Language whom I consulted (who however has given up trying to
do anything about it).

7.  The authority of the Academy is based in part on the the real
problem in deciding what is "correct" and what is a "mistake" in Israeli
Hebrew because of the different strands of Hebrew merged together.  Is
gefilte fish "dag memulah" (Biblical Hebrew) or "dag memuleh" (Mishnaic
Hebrew)?  I have no idea, so I would ask the Academy to "pasken."

8.  Many of the common errors found in Israeli Hebrew speech are a
result of ignorance of the sources of Judaism (Mishnah and Talmud, for
example).  Example--the common Israeli expression "k'hu zeh" meaning
something like "(even) a little bit" is a corruption of the Biblical
expression "kee hu zeh" (Ex 22:8) AS RASHI UNDERSTOOD IT ACCORDING TO
THE MIDRASH HALAKHAH, NOT THE PSHAT.  Thus, even an Israeli who knew the
Bible by heart would not know that k'hu zeh is "wrong."  Condoning these
errors is thus condoning ignorance (am haaratzut).  This is ideology,
not linguistics, but in Israel, everything is politics.


From: Carl Singer <CARLSINGER@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 10:54:34 EST
Subject: Re: Mizvat-Ha-Rai

<< From: Bob Werman <RWERMAN@...>
 I wonder if someone could enlighten me about the use of mirrors to
 center tephillin shel rosh?  When did this become a custom?  Everyone
 carrying a small mirror in his tephillin/tallit bag?  I don't remember
 it 25-30 years ago.  When did it begin?  Where?

 And where is the mitzva to center the head tephillin to the millimeter
 written first? >>

I recall as a kid (over 40 years ago) that we were taught to line up our
tephellin by "feel" -- our nose being somewhat in the center of our face
and thus serving as a reasonable guide -- you'll still see some folks
who move their open hand up their nose towards their shel rosh to align

Kol Tov,

Carl Singer


From: Gilad J. Gevaryahu <Gevaryahu@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 10:45:42 EST
Subject: Re-i (mirror) and Matzpen (compass) in the tefilin bag

I reference to the question v33n92 about the use of mirror in a tefilin

I noticed that some people lately are not only carrying a mirror in
their tefilin bag but also a compass. This was not the case years ago
and I would classify it as an additional chumra for some, or maybe an
obsessive compulsive behavior for others.

Compass will be justified in an unknown place (desert?), but in an
established shul, one should daven with the tzibur, even if it is not
directed in the perfect azimuth. (I have reported earlier on MJ that
many if not most shuls are not built in the perfect direction.)

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Saul Davis <sdavis@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 22:09:33 +0200
Subject: Shabbat "Hagadol"

Caela Kaplowitz wrote that she prefers to translate Shabbat Hagadol as
the Shabbat of the great (miracle)" and not the great Shabbat. (And see
Binyamin Dana-Picard in MLJ #90.) I think that neither are correct.

There are a few Shabbatoth in the year with a special name: Shabat
"Nahamu", Shabat "Shuva" and Shabat "Hagadol". All of these are named
after a key word in the haftarah. The key word for the haftarah of
Shabat Hagadol is Hagadol which is its penultimate word, ie Malakhee
3:23. (This is the ultimate pasuq because we repeat the penultimate
pasuq). Personally I would have preferred "Wearva" which is the first
word - as are "Nahamu" and "Shuva" - and I still need to explain why
"hagadol" was chosen and not the more obvious "Wearva".

Saul Davis
Beer-Sheva, Israel


From: Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2000 10:47:23 +0100
Subject: Shlumiel the shlemiel

This morning's Torah reading brought up this question.  It seems obvious
that the Yiddish word "shlemiel" comes from the name Shlumiel ben
Tzurishedai.  But what is it about Shlumiel that makes him the
archetypical shlemiel?  I heard, years ago, that it was because he was
the first one to cross the Jordan River into Eretz Yisrael, recklessly
ignoring the possible dangers to himself and to everyone else.  But
someone pointed out to me this morning that only Yehoshua and Kalev,
from that generation, entered Eretz Yisrael, so that explanation
couldn't be right.  This person has a theory (which he considers so
farfetched that he doesn't want me to use his name here) that it has
something to do with the fact that Shlumiel's parsha on Chanukah (read
on the 5th day) is the only one that cannot fall on Shabbat.

Can anyone answer this question?

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel


From: Menucha Chwat <menu@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 21:19:33 +0200
Subject: Re: Tefilat Zakah

> C.  Do women actually say it also? If they do, do they emend any of the
> sexual texts?

After many years of self-emendation, in order to feel comfortable with
the tefilla I was pleasantly surprised with the Artscroll machzor
saying; "This prayer was obviously composed for men.  If a woman wishes
to recite it, she should omit the portions in parentheses."  Parenteses
being around the passages dealing with male anatomy.

menucha chwat


From: Rachel Swirsky <yu211366@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2000 00:31:02 -0800
Subject: Texts for Hebrew Learning

I am a students teacher in the York University Jewish Education
programme.  In my classroom we use a series of books referred to as the
Tel Selah program.  I remember using them when I was a child.  Although
I despised them as a student, now that I am on the other side of the
desk I think that they are a fabulous set of books for teaching reading
and grammar.  The series includes books and activities for students
grade 1 to 6.

Rachel Swirsky


From: Shlomo B Abeles <sba@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2000 23:35:29 +1100
Subject: Yiddish spelling of Hebrew words

From: Mike Gerver <Mike.Gerver@...>
> In 1988, when we were planning a headstone for my grandmother a"h, we
> noticed that on her ketuba her Jewish name Osna was spelled
> aleph-tav-nun-ayin. I had always assumed that "Osna" was a variant on
> the Hebrew "Osnat" and should be spelled aleph-samekh-nun-he, but I
> started to wonder whether there was a different origin to the name, and
> some significance to the odd spelling on the ketuba.  I wrote to Zachary
> Baker, who was (and may still be) the librarian at YIVO, asking him
> about this.  He told me that there was no standardized spelling in
> Yiddish before YIVO published their first dictionary in 1936, and that
> there was no significance to the unusual spelling on the ketuba.

In Shulchan Oruch Even Hoezer Hillchos Gittin there are quite long
pieces in the meforshim about womens (non-biblical) names and how to
spell them.

Shlomo B Abeles


End of Volume 33 Issue 93